Five years ago…..

There are certain things in each of our personal histories that we will NEVER forget!!! It may be a wedding, a birth or even a death.

Sometimes though it is an accomplishment and that is what I am remembering today.

In October of 2015, Michael and I participated in a 10 day trek in the Himalayas, climaxing at Annapurna Base Camp!! On October 8, 2015 we reached what seemed to be the top of the world…..

At the top with our guide Badri

After 6 hard days of climbing stairs and crossing rivers, we were there!!

The scenery was astounding…..

….and the sense of accomplishment was huge!!!

Interestingly, one of my favorite parts of the day was spent by myself in a dry lake bed, just enjoying the sight of the mountains surrounding me and hearing the glaciers breaking and falling on far slopes

Naturally, when I got home there had to be a quilt about this trip and inspiration started with the Buddhist shrines and Stupas that we passed on our journey and also the prayer flags that fluttered in the breeze.

Those inspirations and ruminations resulted in “Himalayan Hallows”……

I was pleased when it was accepted as into the “Tactile Architecture” exhibit in 2017 and loved that it traveled during that year.

This is what I wrote about the quilt for the exhibit and I think that it is the best description that I could ever give…..

I almost feel that this quilt should be called “Serendipity” because so many things happened during the construction that were not planned by me but ended up being exactly what I wanted to portray.  I started the project knowing that I wasn’t sure how I would complete it and  that at any point, I might ruin it, but decided that I just wanted to enjoy the process and see what happened.

As I worked on it, I thought about our 10 days of trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp and how the mountain called Machapucherie was always in our view.  It is the highest peak portrayed in the quilt.

I also fondly remembered the Nepalese guides and porters who assisted us on this journey, and of the great care that they showed for each of the trekkers.  I  remembered how hard it was to say goodbye to them at the end of the trip and how we waved and waved until they were out of sight.

Finally, as I worked, I could smell the  wood smoke pouring from the teahouses and hear the sound of  the bells that hung around the necks of the pack animals that walked the trails with us. 

My  husband and I are privileged to have the opportunity to travel overseas often and I love making quilts that come from these journeys, but this one will always have a very special place in my heart and in my mind.

Travel Log Quilt #4

The next quilt in my “Travel Log Quilt” series is one that was made from a trip that my daughter, Jenny, took back in 2006.   Now I know that this isn’t MY travel quilt, but I had been to the same area LONG before digital cameras were a thing, so I claim it anyway.

She was a Freshman at University of Georgia and decided to do “May-mester” (a short 2 week term) in Australia.  Since she had been born in Australia this seemed to be the most natural thing for her to do!! She had a wonderful time there, studying the flora and fauna of such an amazing continent.

Probably her favorite part of the trip was time spent on the ocean in the North-eastern state of Queensland.  She enjoyed snorkeling, sky-diving (NOT part of the course) and watching the sea turtles as they made their way from the nest to their home in the ocean.

When she returned with photos from the trip, I was enamored with this picture of a gorgeous sea turtle floating along in the ocean………

….and also these photos of other undersea creatures……

At the time I was doing a lot of work with photos in quilts and wanted to do something that mixed the photos and fabric.   I started out by setting up a “new” photo that placed the turtle slightly off-center with lots of ocean surrounding……

Each of the lines in the photo represents a small portion of the ocean that I “grabbed” from somewhere else in the photo. It looks choppy here, but the final printing looked great. I printed this photo on fabric using “Printed Treasures” fabric and then started adding”stuff to it.

The three yellow and black fish are all the same photo but just printed in different sizes. They are appliqued to the ocean…..

The reef picture was also printed but I placed it over some fabrics that had a similar look…..

Back then I didn’t have the confidence to free-hand the thread corals but drew them on a wash-out stabilizer, sewed them in place, and then washed the stabilizer away.

The other small fish were simply cut out and appliqued in place without any detail added. I really wanted to give the impression of a school of fish swimming along……

Finally, I added a fabric “coral” and then thread painted over it…..

I was SO pleased with the final quilt…..

“No Barriers”

I loved mixing the photo prints, fabrics and thread work, and I loved the way the quilt spilled out into the border!!

But mostly, I love that it is a fun reminder of Jenny’s trip to Australia……

Travel Log Quilt #3

For my 3rd Travel Log Quilt, we have to travel to gay Paree!! In July of 2004, Michael spent a month in Germany teaching at one of the universities. We decided that the kids (Brian age 19 and Jenny age 17) and I would meet up with him in Paris for a week of sightseeing.

The trip was a lot of fun as we viewed many of the art galleries, especially enjoying the smaller galleries like the Monet, Rodin and Picasso. Of course, the biggest pull for the trip was the magnificent Eiffel Tower.

While on top of the tower we took lots of photos of the Paris skyline, enjoying the slightly hazy views….

After we were back at ground level, I took this photo of Jenny viewing the tower…..

A couple of years later, I decided that I wanted to make a quilt that was a mixture of photographs and fabric collage. This was the resulting quilt……

Everything above the trees was done with photos printed on fabric but the trees and everything below is from fabric.

Now, I like the memory behind this quilt, but I did NOT do the portrait of Jenny correctly. Her body shape simply isn’t right.

A few years ago I tried to fix it…..

….but it still isn’t right.

The problem is that I LOVE her hair but everything below that just doesn’t work.

As I have written this post, I am wondering about cutting off the quilt at her shoulders….

What do you think????

Travel Log Quilt #1

My very first “Travel Log Quilt” is called “Take Me Back To Guana Quay”……..

Take Me Back to Guana Quay

In July of 1997, our family spent two weeks on or around the ocean. The trip started with 4 days on a sailboat in the Florida Keys, followed by 10 days on Guana Quay Island, part of the Abaco chain in the Bahamas.

It was a fun trip, as our kids (ages 12 & 10) had never been on a plane (that they remembered), never been on a sailboat, never been fishing and never snorkeled!! We spent much of our time watching for dolphins, birds and other ocean creatures…..

I actually took fabric on the trip and started making a few of the blocks by hand, but quickly decided since I would be doing a lot of paper piecing, it would be better to wait until I got home. Instead I spent the time looking for inspiration for the individual blocks in the quilt.

At that time I had made a couple of quilts using the ideas in Judy Hopkins book “One-of-a-Kind Quilts”

The idea behind this book is that you can put lots of different sizes of blocks together to form a pleasing design.

Most of the designs came from existing patterns but I designed the sailboat and the lighthouse myself….

I had SO much fun looking thru design after design until I found exactly what I wanted to use in the quilt. Some were paper pieced and some were simply cutouts that were appliqued to the background fabric…..

My favorite block was the large one in the bottom left corner….

I had never done any thread work and greatly enjoyed trying the different techniques to make the coral.

After making the blocks, I was excited to think about tying them together using the “Storm At Sea” block.

To finish the quilt off properly, I did Trapunto quilting around the bottom right corner of the quilt. Be sure to look back at the first photo and exclaim how great it looks!!!!

Yes, I learned an important lesson with this quilt…..if you go to THAT much trouble to do special quilting, be sure that the background fabric will actually SHOW that work. The only way to see the intricate shells is to add a light from the side…..

SIGH!!!!!!

Anyway, this post has gone on far too long, but suffice it to say that this was the first of my Travel Log Quilts and it got me started on a 23 year journey (so far) of making quilts that reminded us of our travels.

So, PLEASE take me back to Guana Quay!!!…….

Airport Art – Mumbai India

In 2015, Michael and I flew from Bangalore India to Kathmandu Nepal to begin our 10 day trek in the Himalayas. It was a wonderful adventure that you can read about starting HERE, but that trip is not the point of this post!! Our one stopover on the trip was an adventure in art!!

Probably the most beautiful and art filled airport that I have ever visited was Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai India.

We just had a short time in one terminal but I was super impressed!!

The light fixtures were all sculpted as flowers in various stages of opening…..

They were gorgeous….

One of the walls had this interesting display of designs…..

….but my favorite were these fabric walls….

They were done in a typical India fiber style (called Kantha) where different shapes of fabrics are layered together and then long stitch “quilting” is added to pull the design together.

As an aside….I have been thinking about playing with this artform myself!!!

Even the bathrooms were marked artistically…..

I wasn’t able to take photos of the outside or the check-in area of the airport but these are some from online that will give you a further idea of the creativity of this airport…..

Our time there was a short, fun interlude at the start of an amazing adventure!!! I hope we have a long layover there someday so that I can explore ALL of the art of this beautiful airport!!!

Dak the orphaned Addax

This is Dak……

She is an orphaned Addax Antelope that Dan Cabela found abandoned in the pasture of Asante, his Exotic Game Ranch in the hill country of Texas. Dan watched her over the course of a day and waited to see if the Mom would come back and take over raising her new calf but she never showed up. True to his nature, he bundled her up and brought her into their personal residence area so that he and his wife Darlene could raise her.

When we first drove into the yard we were greeted by this energetic animal and laughed heartily as she danced around us just wanting to say hello…….

The next afternoon, we happened to be there at “feeding time” (now up to every 8 hours). Darlene prepared the “formula” and I had a wonderful time feeding her…..

As Dan noted, not many people can say that they have done this!!!

We tried to get her to pose with us after dinner, but she simply wasn’t interested……

Later that evening she apparently still equated me with food and decided that my shirt looked like a bunch of leaves. It was fun to watch her nibble along the base of the shirt…..

She will live with Dan and Darlene for about 6 more weeks and then will be reintroduced into the herd.

I love that this sweet couple have taken on such a wonderful project to protect the endangered wildlife of Africa……

Our time with them was a perfect ending to a fun and relaxing trip to Austin, Texas!!!

Asante

The word “asante” is an African word that means thank you, an appropriate name for the Exotic Game Ranch owned by Dan and Darlene Cabela and situated in the Texas Hill Country.

Dan is the son of Dick & Mary Cabela who, in 1961, began building their empire by selling hand-tied- fishing-flies via mail order. As the years passed, Dick and Mary traveled often to Africa and soon fell in love with everything that they saw there, passing this love on to their children.

Dan has taken this passion even further by establishing an Exotic Game Ranch which is designed to protect and reproduce various endangered plains game animals from Africa. These animals are well fed and cared for and then many are sold to other Exotic Game Ranches around the US.

So why are we here???? Michael has always been interested in conservation biology and has been extremely excited about a project called “24 Lions” which is sponsored in part by the Cabela Family Foundation. This project has re-introduced lions to an area in Mozambique where they once roared freely but were decimated by civil war and poaching. In 2018 the 24 lions were released into their new home and have already grown to a grouping of 60, so obviously the plan is working!!

Michael is proposing to write a book about this and other projects that have been developed in the Zambeze Delta area in Mozambique and Dan invited us to spend a few days at the ranch to talk further about it.

The ranch is located in……

….about 30 minutes out of downtown Austin, Texas.

We arrived at the ranch on Wednesday afternoon and were invited in to this magical world……

We settled into our accommodation and then traveled to Dan and Darlene’s beautiful home. My first view was of this wonderful yard art…..

….and I knew that we would be meeting with kindred spirits!!!

The first order of business was a video interview between Michael and Dan, with yours truly behind the camera. When this photo was taken, they were happily discussing whether or not the microphones would pick up their stomach growling!!….

We enjoyed a fun dinner with the couple and settled back in our suite for a good night’s sleep. Early the next morning, Dan arrived in his off-road vehicle and we set out on the most fun part of the trip…..viewing the animals in all of their glory!!!

Almost the first one that we saw was this Mountain Bongo Bull, a species that is definitely on the endangered list…..

Mountain Bongo Bull

As I looked thru the binoculars at his glorious coloring I couldn’t help but see a quilt in the making….does that really surprise you??

The results of the breeding program were all around as we saw numerous calves sticking close beside their Mom…..

Nyala Cow and Calf
Lechwe Cow and Calf

Dan told us that it was unusual to see this many Impala crossing at the same time……

Impala crossing

Along with the African animals, Dan has a thriving crop of White Tailed Deer. This buck, still in velvet, was glorious against the morning sun……

White-Tailed Deer

The Kudu is one of my favorite animals, from his spiraling horns, to his big inquisitive ears and down to the striped hair on his neck ruff…..

Greater Kudu Bull

This is a large grouping of Grant’s Gazelle…..

Grant’s Gazelle

I love the coloring on these animals, especially their butts!! I feel like the white makes them look as if their body is square. It was an interesting sight when there were a large number of them all together.

Even though these are gorgeous animals, this Grant’s Gazelle buck prefers to sit at the fence and watch the Dama Gazelle’s in the next pasture……

Grant’s Gazelle

……MEN……who can figure them out!!!

Dama Gazelle female

These two Roan Antelope apparently knew that they were photogenic and wouldn’t let us pass until the requisite number of photos had been taken!!!……

Roan Antelope

These white Addax are a Saharan desert species…..

Addax

One of the highlights was getting to see this Sitatunga Antelope…..

Sitatunga cow

….but things got even more exciting when she was joined by a VERY young calf….

Sitatunga Mom and calf

Dan told us that these animals are fairly new to the enclosure and were not normally this outgoing!!

At one point he casually pointed to the left and said that there is Grey Fox over there. I used the binoculars and finally found the animal and have NO idea how he saw it with bare eyes, while driving!!!

Even though this is a commercial enterprise, when you listen to Dan talk, you can hear the shear delight that he takes in being able to help preserve these gorgeous creatures. His concern for them came out several times during the tour.

Firstly there was a group that normally had 6 animals but only four were present. He would not leave the area until he found the other two and convinced himself that they were safe and secure.

Then, when a group of buzzards was seen on one of the fences he immediately headed that way to make sure that no animal had died during the night.

And as further proof, tomorrow I will tell you the tale of Dak the orphaned Addax!!!

Stay tuned for more………….

Airport Art – Hartsfield Jackson

I truly enjoy being in airports. I love watching the people that are traveling thru, seeing what types of clothes they are wearing and wondering exactly where their final destination will be.

The newest phenomena that I have seen is the appearance of art galleries in the terminals themselves and this has made traveling even more fun!!

On our last trip thru Hartsfield Jackson airport in Atlanta, I was excited to see a sculpture gallery running along the walkway between the T-Gates and the A Terminal…..

It is sad to say that if we had decided to take the train rather than walk, we would have missed this entirely!! It makes me want to walk the entire airport to see what else I am missing!!!

There were several different artists who created these works but most were created in the same style. Here are my favorites……enjoy

“Woman Showing Traditional Salute” by Edronce Rukodzi
“Caring Mother” by Lameck Bonjuisi
“Who Will Raise the Child” by Gladman Zinyeka
“Galactic Dancer” by Tapfuma Gutsa
“Hwata (Secretary Bird)” by Amos Supuni
“Generation Pyramid” by Gedion Nyanhongo

I had two favorites that I have left for last. This next one is called “Leap Frog” and I love the abandon that I feel in the young child who is leaping!!

“Leap Frog” by Dominic Benhura

This final one is called “Conversation” and was the only one sculpted by a female.

“Conversation” by Agnes Nyanhongo

In looking closely at the heads and faces, I think that she perfectly caught the moment!!

This was a wonderful distraction in the midst of COVID, facemasks and social distancing!!!!

Let’s go to Luckenbach Texas….

…..with Waylon and Willie and the boys!!

Yes, today, we joined Waylon and Willie in traveling to the famed Luckenbach Texas!!

Although the actual “town” isn’t much…..

…..but it did have a friendly vibe…..

But the most enjoyable thing about the visit to Luckenbach was the drive that we took to get there!! This is Luckenbach Road…..

….and it instantly reminded us of Abilene. We half expected to run up on Michael’s old house a mile or so down the road!!!

One of our favorite things here are the Live Oak Trees that cover this area. And, although it means that the tree has died, I LOVE seeing the bare bones of the tree after the leaves have all gone….

Michael even spotted one with 4 vultures sitting in it…..

You can’t get much more iconic of a photo!!!!

We also stopped to photograph a flower that is similar to those that Michael worked on during his Undergraduate years at Texas Tech (go Red Raiders!!)……

Finally, we stopped to photograph this grouping of Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia) that had already set fruits……

gotta love the barbed wire fence!!

It reminded us of one Christmas back in the late 70’s when we had little money to spend on Christmas gifts for family. So, we made jelly for everyone…..Grape (made from bottled Welch’s Grape Juice), Crab Apple (made from free Apples picked from trees on campus) and Prickly Pear (picked from plants along some of the local back roads)!!

Those were fun times!!!

Returning to the Motherland!!

Michael has a meeting in Austin on Wednesday and Thursday so we decided that we would return to the Texas (fondly known as the Motherland) for a couple of extra days. If nothing else, it would get us out of the house for a bit!!

The traveling was a bit eerie as the airport was completely uncrowded and of course we were all wearing our wonderful masks. Compared to our trip to China two years ago, the smiles were the same although you can’t really tell…..

We had booked a hotel in downtown Austin and were able to drive there easily and get checked into our room. The first thought after hotel was food…..and Mexican in particular!! We found an Abuelos (one of our favorites in Abilene) so headed over for lunch. Within 1 hour of touchdown, we were sitting in the restaurant enjoying chips, salsa and Margarita’s……a personal best…..

As we were driving back to the hotel, we realized that the Texas State Capitol building was only a few blocks away from the hotel so we decided to go and pay our respects. As with everything in Austin, it is closed to the public right now but we did enjoy walking around the area and taking photos of the beautiful capitol grounds…..

The Capitol building was built in 1888 and is comprised of Red Granite quarried from Burnet county in Texas. The interior walls are Texas Limestone while the roof is made of Copper.

I have always thought that it was a beautiful building and made me proud to be a citizen of the great Lone Star State….

Speaking of stars, the fence around the compound was replete with thousands of stars…..

The grounds are beautiful with large trees of every variety. We would have loved to get to this sculpture but had to enjoy it from a “more than social” distance…..

After leaving the Capitol we tried to visit the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk but unfortunately it was gated and closed. So the next best thing was to drive around the University of Texas. Although, since we are alumni of Texas Tech University (Go Red Raiders!!), this is almost a sacrilege…..

We did enjoy seeing the campus, especially liking this sculpture…..

We also photographed the infamous University of Texas Tower…..

…..where, in 1966, Charles Whitman took rifles and other weapons to the observation deck and proceeded to fire indiscriminately on people on the surrounding streets. Before he was killed, he shot and killed 14 people and wounded 31 others.

Sadly in today’s world, this is not unexpected but in 1966 it was unheard of. Even though I was only 9 years old at the time, I knew the story of the UT Tower!!

To end this post on a happier note…….

I saw this sign for a Korean Chicken Wing shop and thought that the logo design was so ingenious. Someone had on their creative thinking cap when they came up with this…..

I loved this railing……

….and to continue in my collection of interesting hotel carpet designs, I really like this brightly colored paisley outside of our room……

I especially like this “quilting” design…..

More to come from the great state of Texas!!!